JINR project won grant of Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education

News, 05 October 2021

The project of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research “Development and creation of elements of experimental stations based on pulsed and permanent neutron sources” has won in the grant competition of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia in the category “New technologies for the creation of elements and systems of experimental stations of pulsed and permanent neutron sources”. Grants are aimed at the development of synchrotron and neutron research.

Victor Bodnarchuk, the Head of the Spectrometer Complex of the IBR-2 reactor at the Laboratory of Neutron Physics of JINR, notes that there is work on the creation of the international Neutron Research Centre based on the PIC high-flux reactor, Russia has some nuclear research reactors and plans for the creation of promising neutron sources based on high-flux proton accelerators. All this requires advanced creation and development of elements of experimental stations, as well as the implementation of the strategy on the creation of a unified system for collecting, analysis, and storage of big flows of experimental data.

“Even today neutron investigations face the absence of neutron detectors with computing accuracy high enough, spatial resolution, low sensitivity to background gamma irradiation. These detectors are necessary to study the mechanisms of interaction of viruses with living cells, including the COVID-19, new types of drugs, secrets of adaptation of living organisms to extreme conditions on Earth, to create environmentally friendly types of hydrogen fuel, high-capacity electric accumulators, new materials for spintronics, supercapacitors, quantum computers, new coating types, promising currency sources, for the use of neutrons to study and to preserve objects of the cultural heritage. Such detectors are also useful to understand the mechanisms of climate changes on Earth, to study a number of purely scientific issues but important for testing modern theoretical models, for example, magnetic monopoles, skyrmions, axions, dark matter, and many other topical issues of natural science,” the scientist noted.

In addition to the purely scientific application, new detector technologies may be necessary for some industries related to nuclear power. These fields require a long-term operation, sometimes in extreme external conditions, while maintaining efficiency.

To create such innovative neutron detectors, cooperation of research institutes and universities, as well as a comprehensive approach are necessary. The latter includes the search for new materials for registration of neutrons, technologies for the creation of gas, scintillation, semiconducting solid-state and hybrid structures thus ensuring the required computing rates, spatial resolution, and background suppression. It is necessary to create nanosecond electronics and software for collecting and storing big volumes of experimental data, design the system for managing big databases, visualise experimental data online and offline.

“The situation with neutron position-sensitive detectors in the world drastically differs from that with detectors of X-ray photons. There are almost no ready products necessary for the creation of modern neutron experimental stations on the world market. The Russian Federation has no such batch products nowadays. Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, the development, creation, and production of neutron detectors for various aims based on innovation technologies will make it possible to create a fairly large number of new workplaces in the high-tech industrial fields. Fulfilment of the JINR project will ensure the organisation of a centre for training and advanced training of specialists and for additional education in the development and use of the neutron megascience research infrastructure, in particular, when creating detectors of neutron irradiation,” Victor Bodnarchuk highlighted.

Scientific events and schools in the frames of the project, which are aimed at science popularisation and attraction of young specialists to the megascience research infrastructure, are supposed to ensure highly qualified personnel potential for efficient studies at research neutron sources of the Russian Federation, both operating and planned to be created.

Almost all leading teams engaged in neutron studies in the corresponding field will implement the project. For example, teams from the NRC “Kurchatov Institute”, the PNPI, JINR, the INR RAS, the Institute of Metal Physics of the Ural Branch of RAS. Leading universities, such as MIPT, Kazan Federal University, the State University “Dubna”, are engaged in the project. There are agreements on supplying necessary equipment concluded with some commercial companies.

In total, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation has announced 21 winners of the competition for grants aimed at the implementation of projects included in the Federal Scientific and Technical Programme for the development of synchrotron and neutron research and the research infrastructure in 2019 – 2027.